Here’s how you can be happy by learning from these countries.
We’re at the tail end of 2018 and that means it’s time to reflect on what we’ve done this year, and how we’d like to improve for the new year. Some new year resolutions vary from losing a few kilos to getting rid of certain bad habits. But have you contemplated on your emotional and mental well-being?
We’ve spent most of our time in the competitive rat race, but despite fattening our wallets or successfully scaling the career ladder, some of us end up burnt out and dissatisfied with life.
To figure out how to be happy, we can start by learning how other people in the world have done to pursue their own bliss. Here are some tips from some of the happiest people and countries. To a better year ahead!
Bhutan — where happiness is measured
This Himalayan kingdom famously invented Gross National Happiness, an index that measures the progress of the country based on the contentment and happiness of its people, instead of the wealth and economic growth of the nation.
When you ask a Bhutanese if they’re happy, they’ll most likely tell you “yes”. So if Bhutan is the “Land of Happiness”, then why is it ranked the 97th happiest country in the world, according to the UN World Happiness Report?
This is because the Western world has devised a way to measure “happiness” using objective indicators such as a country’s per capita Gross Domestic Product, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.
However, in Bhutan, happiness is measured using these four pillars: environmental conservation, cultural preservation, good governance, and sustainable and equitable socio-economic development. This is vastly different from indicators used in UN’s Happiness report.
People in Bhutan are contented with whatever little they have. Why? Because they believe that there are other things that are more important than wealth. These include being in touch with nature, embracing change and accepting the inevitable, being religious or spiritually aware, and serving your King and country.
The Buddhist culture that’s prevalent in Bhutan also plays a major part. People here on the whole are content, peace-loving and non-violent. Letting go of the notion that wealth equates to happiness has allowed the Bhutanese to be one of the happiest and most carefree people in the world.
Japan — where happiness is an art form
You may or may not have heard of a Japanese term called “wabi-sabi”, a belief that is rooted in Zen Buddhism where it is often described as appreciating beauty in imperfection. It is difficult to define wabi-sabi in its entirety but the broad concept of the Japanese philosophy is an acceptance of impermanence and shortcomings.
In art and aesthetics, wabi-sabi may refer to the beauty of rustic or imperfect items like worn furniture, weathered wood, tarnished metal and chipped ceramic. In everyday life, we can use this philosophy to embrace imperfection and acknowledge that there is a certain charm to failings.
However, wabi-sabi isn’t about settling for less; it’s about finding balance and contentment. Being aware that everything isn’t always ideal and that there is beauty in everything — that’s when we can then find happiness in our lives.
(Also read: 7 Healthy Ways to Deal with Depression)
Denmark — where happiness is “hygge”
Denmark has dominated the World Happiness rankings for seven consecutive years and is constantly ranked among the top three countries that are the happiest in the world.
While certain factors such as a stable government, low level of corruption and high-quality healthcare and education all contribute to Denmark as a leading country in world happiness, “hygge” (pronounced as hue-guh) is the real reason everyone’s feeling full on the inside.
The Oxford dictionary defines hygge as: “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.
Hygge is used to describe that sense of wellness and comfort that you’re feeling at the moment. It’s also used to describe quality social interactions. Think events, dinner gatherings with friends, or a quiet evening spent playing cards or board games with the family. You know you’ve had a “hyggeligt” time when you leave feeling warm and fuzzy, and swear to do it again sometime soon.
Hygge is very much integrated into the Danish psyche and culture. Amazon has over 900 books about hygge and Instagram has over 3.8 million posts with the hashtag #hygge. Hygge is a good reminder for us to slow down and learn to appreciate the little things in life that makes you warm, fuzzy and happy.
India — where happiness is knowledge
It goes without saying that India is a land of rich philosophical heritage. It is where saints, gurus, yogis and philosophers have pondered about the meaning of life and happiness for thousands of years, and developed a myriad of spiritual beliefs.
The Upanishads, a set of philosophical and religious texts that Hinduism is based on, states that happiness is brought about by the knowledge of the infinite. This recognition of self-awareness and knowledge is called “moksha”.
It says: “Truth is subject to science, science is subject to study, study is dependent on respect, respect depends on concentration, which, in turn, depends on happiness. And happiness is brought about by the knowledge of the infinite.”
This is one of the hardest concepts to grasp, but essentially what the Upanishads teach is that once you are at peace with your true Self, you don’t need any external stimulation or material gain to experience bliss. You can begin the journey by looking inwards and being more self-aware. Getting into a meditative practice helps too.
(Also read: Do These 4 Yoga Poses to Feel Happier Instantly)